Nursya Jusoh, Amelia Shelton, Patricia Lim, Diana Hazari and Harum Delima Haug are five strong-willed women who are out to light up Ironman 70.3 Langkawi on Saturday.
Lim, Diana and Harum are competing as a team in the relay event while Nursya and Amelia are in the individual triathlon race.
Nursya, a seasoned Ironman campaigner, is an inspiration to many Muslim women as she competes in a full-length trisuit, complete with a sports hijab, thanks to her sponsor Purpose.
“I have three kids, and my second son has completed the kids’ triathlon twice!” said the 42-year-old housewife.
“My husband also did Ironman last year. He is my number one fan!”
Nursya, who will compete in her fourth consecutive Ironman, has come full circle since witnessing her first Ironman in 2014.
“I was so inspired by the spirit of the participants that I enrolled for swimming lessons. My husband bought me a bike shortly after.
“I did my first triathlon in 2015 and signed up for my first Ironman in 2016.”
Amelia, a dentist, found her work physically and mentally draining, leaving little room for outdoor activities.
But an event in Langkawi two years ago changed that as she got to meet Sandra Loh, who cycled around peninsular Malaysia with a friend in 2009.
“She asked me to go cycling with her and offered to lend me her bike when I told her I didn’t have one,” said Amelia.
“We cycled across some gorgeous views that weekend and that was the start.
“I bought my first road bike and started taking part in any event that involved cycling, swimming or running – all because of Sandra.”
Amelia will compete in her first Ironman 70.3 on Saturday.
Bonding through triathlon
For Lim, Diana and Harum, completing the relay event would mean achieving their ultimate friendship goal.
“We have all done the full Ironman in Langkawi and are familiar with the routes,” said Lim, a cafe owner.
“We just want to go there and have fun. I want all of us to finish with a big smile.”
Lim is grateful she met Diana and Harum through this small, yet close-knit community of female triathletes.
“We met over four years ago, and have bonded even though we don’t train together.
“I did my first relay in Port Dickson in 2015 and was inspired. Some of the women were in their 60s, but they could complete a full Ironman in 12 hours. Amazing.”
Diana will tackle the 90km cycling leg.
“I was training for my first Ironman in 2016 but suffered a bike accident just weeks before race day.
“I still participated – with stitches and blurry eyesight. I could not perform and didn’t finish the race,” recalled the housewife.
“I was heartbroken but became more determined to complete a race, so I signed up the following year looking for ‘revenge’.
“I worked extra hard and was more careful during training. I finished my first race in 2017 to become an Ironman.
“It was one of the best moments of my life.”
Harum, who struggled with obesity, fell in love with running on her journey to a healthier lifestyle.
However, the real estate agent was heartbroken after a misdiagnosis by a doctor.
“I consulted a doctor I had never met and was told my legs were bad for running based on my X-ray. I cried for days. I then consulted other specialists and they said my legs were fine,” recalled Harum.
“I went home with renewed spirits and told my husband I was going to join a triathlon.
“He wasn’t interested, but the fire in me was so intense, I knew I was going to do it with or without him.
“He saw my passion and learnt to swim with me. After swimming 1,000m non-stop, we were motivated and shopped for a bike.”
Harum’s Ironman adventure has taken her to Estonia, Italy and Norway, but she always remembers her Ironman Malaysia experience.
“I did not finish and told myself I wasn’t going to do another one. But if I had stopped, I would not have achieved all this. Don’t succumb to pressure, move at your own pace.”
Meanwhile, Women For Tri which aims to increase female participation at all levels of triathlon, saw an 18 per cent higher participation at the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events, which now totals more than 71,000 female triathletes globally.
Towards this, Ironman 70.3 Langkawi received an additional 25 slots for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, as part of Women for Tri.